Richardson looking to speed up

PTI | ByJulian Guyer (AFP), London
May 21, 2004 12:40 AM IST

The New Zealand opener admitted his painstaking 93 against England on the opening day had been a "pretty dour innings".

New Zealand opening batsman Mark Richardson admitted his painstaking 93 against England on the first day of the first Test at Lord's on Thursday had been a "pretty dour innings" and that he needed to speed up if he was to add to his tally of three Test hundreds.

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"At times I wish I was (Adam) Gilchrist," Richardson told reporters afterwards in a reference to the free-scoring Australia wicket-keeper, after batting for over six hours.

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Richardson, who was unluckily given out lbw to England fast bowler Stephen Harmison after inside edging the ball on to his pads, was the anchorman as New Zealand amassed 284 for five before bad light forced an early close.

"It was pretty dour and miserable, poking and prodding really," said Richardson in an unusually candid self-assessment by a sportsman of their own performance.

But he admittd he was disappointed to miss out on a coveted Test century at the home of cricket, a feat which would have seen his name inscribed on one of the honours boards in the Lord's dressing rooms.

"They don't put 90s up on the scoreboard in the changing room. It's every cricketer's, every batsman's dream to score a century at Lord's."

In total Richardson, 33 next month, faced 266 balls and batted for 378 minutes, his innings featuring 17 fours.

Fortunately for Auckland left-hander Richardson, as he readily acknowledged, New Zealand had faster scoring batsmen around him.

He shared century stands with Nathan Astle (64 off 77 balls) and Jacob Oram (64 not out off 75 balls) and Richardson said: "I'm not a gifted player in terms of my ability to play shots.

"Luckily, I play in a team that allows to me play my defensively-orientated game and I've been allowed to fill a role."

Richardson has made 50 or better on 20 occasions in Test cricket but still only has three centuries to show for his efforts. "I've been fairly criticised for my conversion rate of fifties to hundreds.

"I have set myself a goal of scoring more hundreds but the fact that I haven't is down to how long it takes me to score my runs.

"That's the reason why I don't get more hundreds. When you've got to face 300 balls to get a hundred one of them is likely to get you out."

Richardson, who said England's four man-pace attack all bowled with "plenty of gas", admitted New Zealand were concerned about justifying captain Stephen Fleming's decision to bat first.

"The guys are pretty nervous about turning up tomorrow and making sure we back it up."

Richardson, who was dropped twice by England in his innings, fell when he was given out lbw by Australian umpire Darrell Hair despite a thick inside edge on to his pads.

"I'm not sure if I'm allowed to say too much about that," said Richardson of his dismissal. "I would have preferred it if the ball had hit the middle of the bat," he added diplomatically.

Meanwhile Glamorgan fast bowler Simon Jones, who led England's attack with two for 54, admired Richardson's solidity at the crease.

"He's a good player. He plays and misses and then he blocks it," Jones said.

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